In the summer, we look for ways to keep from melting into human puddles. Water sports offer a fun and satisfying way to cool off and stay active during the summer months when air-conditioning and popsicles fail us. While we’re happy to simply splash around at a nearby pool or lake, we prefer to get our heart rates up and log in some time at our favorite state parks with some of the following water sports you might want to try this summer.
Don’t let the name fool you; this is no doggy paddle. Paddle boarding is a form of modified surfing that involves either kneeling or standing on a special board and navigating gnarly waves with a single paddle. Paddle boarding requires a combination of balance, coordination, and strength, which results in a full-body work out at any level of paddling. Beach bods here we come! The best part of paddle boarding is its flexibility as a sport and hobby; as a paddler you get what you give, and can modify your “work out” to meet your physical demands. Whether you choose to go the distance (pros paddle upwards of 20 miles at a time), zen out with stand-up paddle board yoga, or just keep it casual, paddle boarding can be as rewarding as it is fun.
Not all water activities seek to make a hardbody out of you; for the lazy water babies out there, there’s river tubing. This leisurely activity attracts kids and adults alike, as it requires little else than the ability to kick back and relax. Since many rivers transcend state boundaries, river tubing allows you to literally float from one state to another, no toll taxes required. Since most tubing facilities permit snacks on the trip, this laid-back activity is the perfect way to get your friends and loved ones away from the boob tube and onto an inner tube!
On the top of our list of best hybrid sports (aqua bowling and rhythmic snorkeling didn’t quite make the cut) is windsurfing. An exciting combination of surfing and sailing, windsurfing thrives on gusty weather, but don’t you dare call it a breeze! In the early 80′s windsurfing was recognized as an Olympic sport, though most of its popularity lies within a less competitive, leisurely crowd. Though the equipment for windsurfing can cost a small fortune, most parks and recreation areas that allow for windsurfing have rental facilities, so you can try out the sport at a relatively low cost.
Put the pedal to the metal…er…water this summer by taking a hydrobike out for a spin on your local lake. Like something out of an H.G. Wells novel, a hydrocycle or hydrobike is a tad awkward looking, but looks can be deceiving—hydrobiking is a blast! This solo sport uses air generated by the rider’s pedaling to propel the bike forward and often resembles a pedal boat rather than a bicycle, as the name suggests.
Hold on tight this summer, because more and more state parks are adding waterskiing to their list of available activities. While it may appear that water skiers are just along for the ride, this watersport requires both upper and lower body strength, balance, and endurance just to stay afloat. On the flip side, don’t be intimidated by the challenge of waterskiing. Once you get the hang of it (get it?) the rush you get from the speed and wave jumping will become positively addicting.